Let Councils keep profits from ‘Right to Buy’

Archive for March, 2011

Let Councils keep profits from ‘Right to Buy’

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

 

I’ve signed a Parliamentary motion calling on the Government to allow Councils to keep all of the profits from ‘Right to Buy’ to reinvest in affordable housing for local people.

 

At the moment most of the profits go to the Treasury.

 

Since ‘Right to Buy’ came in the number of Council properties in Barking and Dagenham has halved.

 

‘Right to Buy’ has given some people in the Borough the chance to own their own homes. The problem is that those properties weren’t replaced. The money wasn’t used to build new housing stock as it should have been.

 

It’s completely unfair that central government has reaped the profits while local people have lost out because there aren’t enough houses.

 

The Council should be able to keep 100% of the money and use it to build the new affordable homes we so desperately need in this Borough.

 

The motion I’ve signed also calls on the Government not to cap the amount Councils can borrow to invest in social housing, so they’ve got the freedom they need to meet local needs.

 

 Early Day Motion 1589: 

 

That this House welcomes the provisions in the Localism Bill to end central control and redistribution of council housing finance and to enable councils to manage their housing stock for the benefit of local residents; urges the Government to recognise that the maximum local freedom and control will be most conducive to councils’ ability to maintain existing housing and provide new homes; and therefore calls on the Government to remove from the Bill any powers for controls on borrowing beyond the well-established and successful prudential code and to allow local authorities to keep 100 per cent. of right to buy receipts for reinvestment locally.

Barking and Dagenham stores offering a healthy start

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

I was really pleased to learn that children from two local primary schools took part in NHS Change4Life’s ‘Healthy Start’ project, which aims to make fruit and vegetables more readily available in local stores.

Children from Monteagle Primary recently took part in a ‘bushtucker trial’ by trying different sorts of fruit and veg which they hadn’t eaten before, and children from Five Elms were asked to create a face using fruit and veg!

The Costcutter store in Lodge Avenue and the Nisa store in Wood Lane, Dagenham are taking part in the campaign that will make it easier for local residents to get their 5-a-day. The NHS has provided funding to buy new fruit and vegetable chillers and stands, and the stores have agreed to match this funding to help promote the 5-a-day message.

I’m pleased to be supporting this campaign and I really hope it boosts the health of our local community. For more information click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cuts are starting to bite

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Many local residents have been asking me what the Budget means for them.

Unfortunately there are already real pressures on local services as a result of cuts to the local Council.

Last Friday I met two local groups who are losing their funding and fantastic people losing their jobs. One was School-Home Support, a charity that supports vulnerable children to make sure their education doesn’t suffer; the other was The LINk, a group that monitors what’s going on in our hospitals and GP surgeries so local residents can hold them to account.

Their cuts are a sign of the times.

Last year the economy was growing again and unemployment was falling. Now people are losing their jobs because of the cuts and our economy is grinding to a halt. There are more than 1,000 young people in this Borough desperately trying to find work.

VAT has already gone up and that has hit all of us. In the next few weeks we will face big cuts in services and cuts in things like child benefit and housing benefit.

Local residents who I have spoken to are concerned about the rising cost of living, the risk to jobs and household budgets being squeezed.

Yes, the Budget included a 1p cut off the cost of a litre of petrol, but the rise in VAT has put prices up 3p since Christmas.

There is also real concern about the future of our young people. Many people I speak to at my coffee afternoons feel strongly that the Government should be taxing bankers’ bonuses more, and using that money to make sure that all young people are guaranteed either a job or training.

At my coffee afternoon on Friday several people told me they were disappointed that there wasn’t anything like this in the Budget.

Life is tough and I’m afraid it is going to get tougher with the cuts we are seeing. I will continue to campaign on behalf of the people and organisations in Barking and Dagenham struggling to make ends meet. Help me by letting me know how the cuts are affecting you.

Longbridge Coffee Afternoon

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Last Friday I held one of my coffee afternoons at St Erkenwald’s Church in Longbridge ward.

More than 60 local residents turned up and we had a good chat about the things that are bothering people. Local police and council officers were there so we could agree a way forward on the issues people raised.

There were really three main concerns that people had. The big, big issue was the closure of the A&E and maternity units at King George Hospital. People are really worried about this because everyone knows someone who has been affected by the problems in our local health services.

One lady told me about her friend, an elderly woman, who had been to the eye department at Queens Hospital and couldn’t even get a seat in the waiting room because people were queuing into the corridor. And everyone had read in the paper about the terrible failures in the maternity unit at Queens and the ambulances queuing round the block at Christmas.

It’s just common sense that Queens won’t be able to cope if King George goes and people don’t understand why the officials in charge can’t see that. We talked about the next stage of my campaign and I’ve got lots of names down to come to the rally on 8th April! Please click here for more information.

We also talked about the spate of burglaries in the area recently. The police reassured us that they are being extremely vigilant. They also gave people some tips about burglar-proofing their homes. The Council have now put security gates on the blocks on the Leftley estate but people must remember to lock them.

It’s also really important that people are vigilant when using the cash machines in the Town Centre. Criminals have been fixing a metal or plastic plate onto the money slot so the notes stick to it as they come out. Once the customer has left they come back and collect the cash. This is what it looks like:

And residents are still really fed up with cars speeding down Salisbury Avenue and Wilmington Gardens. It’s extremely dangerous and the council agreed to work with me on this one to see what we can do to reduce speeding in the area.

I’ll write back to all local residents to let them know what we talked about and what I’ll be doing next.

Community Rally to Save King George A&E

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Join me at Ilford Town Hall Friday the 8th of April to stand up to the bureaucrats and say KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF OUR HOSPITAL!

I will be attending the meeting along with the other 7 MPs involved in the campaign – Jon Cruddas MP, Iain Duncan Smith MP, Mike Gapes MP, Lee Scott MP, John Cryer MP, Andrew Rosindell MP and Angela Watkinson MP. Ken Livingstone and faith speakers will also be coming to show their support for our campaign.

I would ask all local residents concerned about the potential impact of the A&E  closure on the local community to attend the rally, even if it’s for 10 minutes or half an hour!

We are expecting all the major news outlets to cover the event ranging from BBC London to local newspapers and radio stations. It would be great for the cameras to see how many of us don’t support the Government’s plan to close the A&E and Maternity Unit and would send a great message to the bureaucrats who want to close these units down.

Please download and stick up the poster in your home, at work or anywhere else to make sure we have a big turnout to save the A&E and Maternity Unit at King George!

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